Friday, January 11, 2008

Passing of Sir Edmund Hillary

Yesterday (January 11, 2008), Sir Edmund Hillary passed away. He was an explorer from New Zealand and most famously, with Tenzing Norgay (a Nepalese Sherpa) he was one of the first two men to summit Everest. He is special to Antarctica because he founded New Zealand's Scott Base and was the first to reach the South Pole (1958) via a traverse in over 40 years since Amundsen (1911) and Scott (1912) had done it. Later, he also reached the North Pole. He had such an effect on Antarctic exploration that there will be a memorial service for him this Sunday.

More information can be found at

Sir Edmund Hillary in Antarctica just one year before his death. He slept on the ice shelf once during his visit.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

News about us

News, that really shouldn't be news. No one cares back home when these things happen, but when we do these things in Antarctica, it is really exciting!!!!


Fight, an inappropriate Santa, and car chase:
As I understand it, the car chase was about 10 mph.

The Kiwi dodgeball team:
This last article is really ridiculous. Anyone reading from an American perspective will know why. First up, Dodgeball isn't a B movie, but dodgeball certainly isn't a national sport for us either. Either way, it was fun and got a lot of people fired up. In the final tournament, the Kiwis were knocked out in the semi-finals.

The annual rugby match is this coming weekend. There is a rumor that not only have the Kiwis not lost, but they have never been scored on. A couple people on the McMurdo rugby squad are promising that will change. Most of the players on the American squad are learning the game for the first time. I'm not sure about the Kiwi team, but I'd suspect they at least know the rules because it is on television there.

It's Black, It's White!!

Black & White party at the BFC

I'm a little behind on random blog happenings, so today is a catch up day. Just a single picture from the BFC's Black & White party. I think this was the Friday before New Year's Eve. The theme was simple, come dressed up in black and white and dance under UV lights. I put on my mandarin collared suit with my under armour shirt underneath. They were the only black and white clothes that that I have here. Off came the keens and on went the dancing shoes. It was the first night that I have really danced here. Such a good night. Points to Meg for making sure I went when I was feeling tired.

I've been feeling run down these past couple weeks. I think it is a little bit of a lack of sleep, but more a lack of schedule. I haven't been working out regularly to rest for the marathon, because I got off my schedule, and partly because I'm lazy. The marathon is in ten days and after that I should get back to working out a little bit more regularly. Of course, a little bit now would help for the marathon too. Such is life. So far about twenty five people are signed up.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Baby Skua

Rumor had it that there was a baby skua on the rocks near Roll Cage Mary on Hut Point. The hike down was short as always, but incredibly windy. After a quick look around, we found an adult skua. We looked for a few minutes and figured that the skua was sitting on the baby skua keeping it warm. Just as we were about to leave, someone saw the baby off to the side. Unfortunately, it looked like it does above and wasn't moving. It wasn't anywhere near the adult skua so we thought it was dead.

Dead skua? Killed by cats? If the cats made friends, they probably would have given it sunglasses and a patch. If you don't understand this comment, go here.

After about ten more minutes of sitting, waiting, and wondering if the first baby skua was alive and the second rumored baby was underneath the adult skua, we started to head out. As we did, someone saw the baby skua moving and there was much rejoicing.

The baby skua is the small white ball in the top right quarter of the photo.

Baby skua giving us the stare down!

Sunday, January 06, 2008


A lot of people down here have a lot of strong opinions about what is and is not working down here. Others just have a strict view of fairness. This past week, that flared up when a couple distinguished visitors (DVs) came to visit. I'm not sure who the entire party was, but it included Bob Inglis from the 4th district of South Carolina and Brian Baird from Washington's 3rd District.

A bust of Admieral Byrd on the back of the Chalet.

DVs get to stay in Hut 10 which is a small version of your house back home. They have a private, kitchen, bathroom, etc. The regular dorms have none of these amenities. Other people also make their own beds and take out their garbage. If you were coming to visit would you want to see how the people who make it all work actually live or have it a little cushier? If we didn't have DVs, we might not have Hut 10 at all for all I know. It is great that we do have it though because when they aren't using it, the base fortunately makes it accessible to us for small gatherings. This coming week we are holding a dinner for Annie Farris' 40th birthday there. She is one of the best people down here. So much good energy and so much to share with others.

When DVs come down, they usually to flown to the best places to truly see Antarctica. These include the Dry Valleys, the South Pole, the Cape Royds penguin colony, among many other great spots. Most people down here see one or none of those places their entire season. There are people who have been here for a few years who haven't been to any of those places. You only get to go if you have work to do or if you get lucky enough to do a morale trip. I can see where people get grumpy, but at the same time if we don't show the DVs our best, then they may not push so hard to keep funding for this place. It's politics, same as always.

The Dry Valleys that never freeze in Antarctica. Just 40 miles away physically, but much farther when it comes to getting a chance to go there.

The reason it flared up this week was that DVs don't always attend Happy Camper school or the Outdoor Safety Lecture, which we need to be able to go outside and recreate. However, one DV was allowed to go out hiking without anyway. Not only does that put him at risk, it puts our Search & Rescue team at risk who would need to go after him. Another reason for flare up was that a DVs son who happens to be here got to go to South Pole outside of the normal channels - essentially resulting in the favoritism that they put in a system to avoid. I know some people are even reluctant to talk about the fabulous trips they get to take because other people get jealous.

Happy Camper school where anyone who could be stranded on the continent learns to fend for themselves using just their survival bags.

Personally, I can see why people get irritated, but it is what it is. We knew what we signed for before we came here. Everything else is just a bonus. In the following picture, I'm not sure if the bag is that of a DV or just happens to be brand new. The jaded folks I talked to suggested that the DVs would all have brand new Big Reds and bags. The bags and jackets I saw matched this description, but it also could have been by chance.

The issued bag of a DV (left) vs my bag (right)